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THE HOUSE IN 'SPECTRE'
How did it start? David Taylor has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal but it wasn't until he was at college, about a year after the hit movie Ghostbusters came out, that he took up the serious business of paranormal investigation. Inspired by the adventures of Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray, he and a group of fellow students set up a Para-search Investigation and Research Unit.
However, disillusioned by the fact that sitting up all night in a 'haunted house' could be quite boring, that you dealt with normal people, not ones with special powers and it wasn't a life of strange creatures and free-flowing ectoplasm, the numbers dwindled. From 1986 to 1993 David kept the unit going on his own, then he got a group together again and their exploits have been in and out of the press ever since, appearing not only in newspapers up and down the country, but also on T.V., including the Sci-Fi and Discovery Channels. As a result, they are frequently contacted and asked to investigate inexplicable activity.
As well as from media coverage, people contact the group through other means. They are listed in the region's libraries and they are affiliated to The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), a national organisation that can put local people in touch with them. They also take referrals from local councils and even the police. This may sound surprising but as David explained, "when you hear strange bumps and bangs in your house, you don't know who to call. People tend to contact the police in desperation, and they get in touch with us."
How do they conduct their investigations?
The first thing that they do after they are contacted is to arrange to have an initial chat to get the basic details of the case. Usually at least two of the fifteen-strong group are sent to interview the witness. This is for two reasons. The first is the safety aspect for both parties because you are going to meet somebody that you have never met before, in their house. However, David did say that initially, they would only go to the house if the paranormal activity seemed to be property based. If a ghost seemed to be attached to a person they would usually arrange to meet in a local pub! The second reason is that it is easier to get as many details as possible when two people are asking the questions because they can back each other up, think of other questions and fill in the gaps.
It is often at these initial meetings that just one comment is made that can explain the whole thing. For example, it might be mentioned that the house in question was built on old mines - therefore, the reason for strange noises and doors inexplicably banging shut is probably due to the fact that the house is slowly subsiding! Also, there maybe evidence of a medical complaint or that a person is taking some kind of medication. Within the group there is both a trained psychiatrist and psychologist who can be consulted as to whether a particular drug could give somebody hallucinations. In addition, there could be a strong electro-magnetic field in the area, which can account for a number of strange happenings. Therefore, the first thing that the investigators ask themselves is - "Can we explain this?" As David says, "We are actually trying to disprove it all first - but in the nicest possible way." It is when there seems to be no possible rational explanation that things start to get interesting!
The next stage is to take in their equipment in and gather the evidence. They use anything from a bog standard tape recorder or camera to infra-red video equipment, infra sound and electromagnetic field equipment. The group is entirely self-funded and they don't charge anything, which often surprises those who have asked for an investigation. They basically monitor the situation and often leave the equipment behind to record events over a period of time. Always, they are looking for a rational explanation, dodgy wiring, an overhead pylon etc, but at the same time they are hoping for that special case where all the reasonable explanations have been ruled out and there seems to be no explanation for what is happening.
What have they found?
"You can investigate a place where there have been the standard bumps, bangs and figures seen and find a100% correlation between these things and a rise in EM fields in an area. You get a watertight correlation and begin to think that this could be an explanation for everything. But then the next case is different!" he explained.
David admits that he has spent hours in castles, private houses, pubs, factories and manor houses and experienced very little. He has recorded some very interesting occurrences but not enough to convert people to the idea of ghosts overnight. So, what makes him carry on with his quest?
In the last five years he has collected two pieces of important video evidence. Filmed in a theatre, it shows a column of light hovering in mid-air about 2 feet off the ground, very significant but gone in the blink of an eye. An independent witness saw the same phenomenon about a year after. "It's this sort of thing that really keeps you going," says David.
There was also an incident where the upstairs room of a house under investigation was deserted - everybody that had been around could be accounted for but they still recorded footsteps walking across the upstairs floor.
These new lines of enquiry make up for all the nights spent awake and finding nothing significant - it is these inexplicable occurrences that make it all worthwhile and drive the paranormal investigator to keep searching!
David Taylor, Paranormal Investigator
Tel: 07929 939612 (mobile)
The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP)
P.O. Box 327
The Society for Psychical Research
49 Marloes Road
London W8 6LA
The Ghost Club Investigations
14B Marion Road